While spring is the typical time to do your cleaning and tidying around the garden, most gardeners know that a fall lawn cleanup is just as important. In Powell River, we’re used to relatively mild winters, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare ourselves for the season. Here are a few things you can add to your autumn lawn care schedule to encourage a lush, beautiful landscape when spring arrives.
Fall Lawn Maintenance
Autumn is definitely making its arrival known here in Powell River, but that doesn’t mean we’re finished with lawn maintenance for the year. Although the grass is growing at a much slower rate as it prepares for dormancy, it’s not time to store away the lawnmower quite yet! Continue to cut the grass through the season until growth slows to a halt.
Early in the season, start decreasing the height of your lawnmower with each mow, cutting your grass shorter and shorter until it reaches about an inch and a half in height. You’ll find that your lawn needs mowing less frequently during these last few weeks of growth. Never remove more than a third of the height of your grass at a time, or it might shock your lawn and weaken as it prepares for winter.
Raking and Leaf Removal
Mowing might not be everyone’s favourite task, but at least the machine does most of the work for you! Raking leaves can be a more time-consuming task—especially if the kids like to jump into your tidy piles—but it’s a necessary task nonetheless. Leaving a soggy carpet of foliage for too long can smother your grass and provide a breeding ground for harmful insects and diseases. Raking also helps to break up and remove thatch that sits on the top layer of soils, which can act as a barrier between roots and resources, and create fungal problems.
The good news is that you have a few different options for leaf removal. You can use a rake to gather the leaves into piles, and shove them into appropriate bags for disposal. If you have a rather large property, you might want to use a leaf blower to help you herd the fallen foliage in the right direction. Another option is to use a yard vacuum or a lawnmower to mulch the leaves. Shredded leaves can be composted and used later to enrich your garden beds.
Lawn Aeration and Overseeding
Soil becomes compacted over time due to foot traffic, precipitation, and other natural processes. This means there are fewer air pockets and less oxygen circulating through the ground, and fewer pathways for water and nutrients to reach the roots. Fall is an excellent time for aeration, which removes soil plugs and brings oxygen back into the ground.
In the Powell River area, aerating should be done annually, and with all of the planting and pruning that goes on in the spring, autumn is the perfect time to focus on your lawn’s aeration needs. There are a few different aeration tools out there, including plug aerators, spike aerators, or aerator shoes. They all essentially work the same—they poke holes in the ground to work the soil, break up compaction, and remove soil plugs.
When you’re finished with cleanup and aeration, take note of any unhealthy, patchy areas of your garden. Don’t take it personally; grass naturally loses its pep over time. Overseed these areas to ensure your landscape looks lush and full for next year. Overseeding also doubles as a weed prevention treatment, since patchy areas are just vacant land waiting for weeds to take over.
Applying Fertilizer in Autumn
Before any plant enters a dormant period, their roots will kick into overdrive, collecting and storing energy, nutrients, and moisture to sustain life while it rests. Your grass is no different. That’s why applying fall fertilizers is so essential. We recommend a product called Evergro Fall Fertilizer, which is formulated specifically to nourish your lawn at this time of year.
Timing is key when it comes to fertilization. You don’t want to apply it too early, or the grass will use those nutrients and trigger a growth spurt. But, you don’t want to wait until it stops growing completely either, because then it’s too late to have any actual effect. The best time to apply fall lawn fertilizer is early-ish in the season when the grass has slowed its growth, but the roots are still actively collecting nutrients. We recommend fertilizing grass in early October.
As much as we’d like to leave the grass to tend to itself sometimes, autumn lawn maintenance is crucial if you want your landscape to be healthy and green. Continue with regular garden maintenance through the season, right up until the first frost. You might not see the benefit of raking, aerating, overseeding, and fertilizing now, but your hard work will be evident when the weather warms up. If you have any questions about caring for your garden this season, reach out to us at Mother Nature—we’re always happy to help!